Swiss drug giant Roche is arguably the industry's most consistently admired company, with no fewer than thirteen $1bn-plus blockbusters in 2019. Its pharmaceutical business remains extremely strong, despite biosimilar competition. In the past, this has occasionally led to Roche being regarded as a takeover target, not least by Swiss rival Novartis which built up a shareholding of around 33% in the 2000s, against Roche's wishes. (Novartis shares rights to two key products, Lucentis and Xolair). In order to fend off such threats, Roche streamlined operations to focus on its core business of drugs and diagnostics, cutting loose its consumer healthcare portfolio to Bayer in 2004. The group is also the global leader in in vitro diagnostics, and among the leaders in biotech development, with multiple innovative products already on the market, and more in the pipeline. In addition to the main Roche business, the group operates through two important regional subsidiaries: Genentech in the US and Chugai Pharmaceuticals of Japan. It has also continued to bolt on additional developers, such as US-based Flatiron Health and Ignyta, both acquired in 2018, and gene therapy specialist Spark Therapeutics in 2019. Group revenues topped CHF 60bn for the first time in 2019 at the equivalent of $61.8bn with net income of $14.2bn. Oncology drugs alone accounted for more than half of Roche's pharmaceutical sales. It is the undisputed leader in that segment. Lead products include Avastin (sales of $7.1bn in 2019), MabThera/Rituxan ($6.5bn), Herceptin ($6.1bn), Perjeta ($3.5bn), Tecentriq ($1.9bn) and Kadcyla ($1.4bn). Some of these - especially Herceptin but also MabThera and even Avastin - are already under threat from biosimilar competitors, but any declines are being offset by fast-growing new products such as Alcensa and Gazyva. Blockbusters in other fields are multiple sclerosis treatment Ocrevus ($3.7bn), Actemra/RoActemra for rheumatoid arthritis ($2.3bn), asthma drug Xolair ($2.0bn), opthalmology drug Lucentis ($1.8bn), Activase/TNKase for stroke treatment ($1.3bn), Esbriet for pulmonary fibrosis ($1.1bn) and above all new haemophilia launch Hemlibra, which generated first full year sales of $1.4bn. The separate diagnostics division is a leader in laboratory diagnostics, and also houses a substantial diabetes care business, with products including the Accu-chek self-testing system. Severin Schwan is CEO of Roche.
Capsule checked 16th January 2020
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Historical profile information for Roche
Adbrands Weekly Update 4th Jan 2018: Swiss pharma giant Roche announced the acquisition of US developer Ignyta for $1.7bn. The smaller company is working on several new cancer treatments, a sector in which Roche is a long-time leader. However, sales of Roche's lead product Herceptin are coming under pressure from biosimilars or generic copies.
Adbrands Weekly Update 31st Mar 2016: Interbrand confirmed Pfizer as the world's most valuable pharmaceutical brand in the branding agency's first ever specialised ranking of drug companies. Interbrand posited a valuation of just under $20bn for Pfizer, a wide lead over second-placed Roche of Switzerland at $15.5bn. Neck and neck at $13.9bn were Merck & Co and Johnson & Johnson's drug division Janssen. Novartis rounded out the top five ahead of Amgen and fast-growing Gilead, all between $13.4bn and $13.5bn. Novo Nordisk took 8th place, leaving British duo AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline to complete the top ten. Download the full report here.
Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Aug 2014: The M&A fever within the pharmaceutical sector showed no sign of dissipating. Swiss group Roche agreed to acquire US biotech developer InterMune for $8.3bn, to gain access to that company's new Esbriet product, a breakthrough treatment for a rare and hard-to-treat lung disease. Roche is also said to be in talks to acquire the 39% of equity it doesn't already own in Japanese subsidiary Chugai Pharmaceuticals.
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